Thousands of striking Malawi’s civil servants staged a demonstration in commercial capital in Blantyre to push the government to increase their salary and improve their working conditions.
President Joyce Banda has been at presidential hill-top Sanjika Palace overlooking Blantyre city.
The public servants converged at the government offices in the commercial city where they held the protest march while chanting anti-government songs.
They mounted tree branch and others carried a ‘coffin’ of tree branches, saying President Banda had failed as leader and demanded her resignation.
In the administrative capital Lilongwe, 360 kilometers away, police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at strikers, injuring one person who was rushed to hospital as a crowd of workers gathered around Capital Hill, the seat of government ministries and departments to register their complaints.
he president of the Civil Servants Trade Union (CSTU) Elija Kamphinda Banda said Monday that although government has instituted a dialogue team, the civil servants will continue to stay away from work until their demands are met in full without conditions.
“The major concern is salary,” said Kamphinda-Banda.
Meanwhile, Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM) has since joined the strike, following a Memorandum of Understanding that CSTU and TUM wrote jointly on Monday.
However, Information Minister Moses Kunkuyu was quoted on private radio station calling off the strike saying it was unwarranted.
“The ongoing strike by the civil servants is unwarranted and we are calling upon every civil servant return to their work,” Kunkuyu said.
The Minister said it was not right for the union to go on with the strike when they had asked Government to look into their concerns.
“CSTU gave Government two issues to look into namely, To get some faces out from the Government Negotiating Team (GNT) and To look into the salary concerns,” said Kunkuyu, “So it is not proper for them to go on with the strike while we are considering these issues.”
Discussion between Government and CSTU on the civil servants’ industrial action stalled last week following the latter’s insistence that Government replaces the chairperson of the GNT whom the union accused of “misleading” the nation on the matter.
Meanwhile, Consumer Association of Malawi (CAMA) has warned of more nationwide protests following government’s dismissal of the petition that was presented in the nationwide protests that were organized by CAMA on January 17.
President Banda had inherited a struggling economy weakened by the withdrawal of funds by international donors alienated by her predecessor Bingu Wa Mutharika’s policies.–(Additional reporting by Wanga Gwede, Nyasa Times)Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :